A Funny Thing Happened in Advertising

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Chief Creative Officer, Helayne Spivak, was asked to be a judge for the Forbes "Funniest Ads Ever" this week. If you've ever worked with Helayne, you know that her laugh is unmistakable. So who better to judge?

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Helayne:

Ferrets are the world’s funniest animals, with gerbils bringing up the rear. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Okay, some context here. On Wednesday I judged Forbes Magazine’s World’s Funniest Commercials with a great panel of judges including
- Linda Sawyer, CEO, Deutsch
- David Skokna, executive creative director and partner, HUGE
- Bill McCuddy, Ad critic, Forbes
- Chris Mitton, creative director, Ogilvy & Mather
- George Dewey, executive creative director, McCann-Erickson
- Caroline Hirsch, owner, Caroline's on Broadway.
To my surprise the 37 commercials we saw weren’t current. They went as far back as 1974. (Not all of the panel members went as far back as 1974.)
Some held up over time (the commercials, not just the panel members). Some definitely didn’t.
Alka Seltzer’s “Spicy Meatball” commercial was still funny. So was FedEx’s “Fast Talking Man”. A mock Italian opera spot for Rice Krispies with a mother-in-law joke at the end didn’t fare so well. And yes, there were two separate ferret spots and one gerbil spot that still got big laughs.

You can read about it in Forbes here: http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/30/funniest-tv-commercials-leadership-cmo-network-funniestads.html

What were really interesting were the conversations that took place in between spots and between the judges. Despite the age differences, the experience differences, and even the skill set differences, all were aligned on what is and is not funny.

All agreed the 60-second spots seemed to go on forever. All agreed even some of the 30s needed to pick up the pace.

And, we all agreed that the real entertainment today is happening online.

The reason? Because the risks that were taken on TV in the 60’s, 70’s and through to the 90’s are not being taken now. Safe is good when it comes to your health. But it’s death to comedy.

- Helayne Spivak, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Melanie July 31, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

Helayne rocks. Her insights, right on.
Here's a link to the CMO Network on Forbes.com where the story appears:

Melanie Wells
Executive Editor, Forbes

Jim Joseph August 3, 2009 at 6:09 AM  

Thanks, Melanie, for including Helayne. She had a blast -- was talking about it all day! Jim

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